Page Turn Episode 038

Hello and welcome to Episode Thirty Eight of Page Turn: the Largo Public Library Podcast. I’m your host, Hannah!

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The English Language Transcript can be found below

But as always we start with Reader’s Advisory!

The Reader’s Advisory for Episode Thirty Eight is Light It Up by Nicholas Petrie. If you like Light It Up you should also check out: Nothing Short of Dying by Erik Storey, Deception Cove by Owen Laukkanen, and Fox Hunter by Zoë Sharp.

My personal favorite Goodreads list Light It Up is on is Book Series for Men Who Like Action.

Happy Reading Everyone

Today’s Library Tidbit is on the History of Juneteenth!
For those that don’t know Juneteenth is a portmanteau of June and Nineteenth and is so named because it is a holiday celebrated in June on the Nineteenth.

Juneteenth has gone by a few different names, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day. It is the celebration of the emancipation of people who had been enslaved in the United States. Specifically it is the celebration of the announcement that slavery had been outlawed in the United States and that all people who had been enslaved were free people made in Texas by the Union Army General Gordon Granger on June 19th, 1865.

Now for those of you who were taught US history in schools you may noticed some weird discrepancies with the dates you were taught. After all the Emancipation Proclamation was made on September 22, 1862, and on January 1, 1863 3.5 million enslaved African Americans were free under the law in the United States of America. But with the American Civil War the land mass that was considered the United States of America was constantly changing. The American Civil War officially ended on May 9, 1865. Who then was still enslaving people in June of that year? Short answer, a lot of states. Medium answer, news took time to travel. More complicated answer? People were still being enslaved in Delaware and Kentucky up until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment on December 6, 1865, and of course the Thirteenth Amendment still allows for the enslaving of people if they have been imprisoned, which is partially why we have such a bloated prison population.

So once slavery was abolished by the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln had the Union Army announcing this fact as they advanced during the Civil War. Texas being more remote than other slave states the Union Army didn’t focus on that state for most of the war. This meant that the enforcement of the new law was slow and inconsistent. On June 19, 1865 Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston Texas and read out the proclamation at the Union Headquarters at the Osterman Building, as well as a few other locations including the Customs House, the Courthouse, and the now named Reedy Chapel-AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church.

The proclamation he read was:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

The proclamation starts out fairly strongly. I personally do not enjoy the idea that they expected enslaved populations, who had experience immense abuse and trauma, to stay and work for those that had abused and traumatized them. Especially as it took a series of legal cases in the Texas Supreme Court of formerly enslaved people to have legal status as free people between 1868 and 1874. But, it did, abolish, mostly, slavery in Texas.

Juneteenth started as a Texas holiday, with formerly enslaved Texans gathering on the anniversary of the proclamation to celebrate. The first few Juneteenths were referred to as Jubilee Day, a reference to the concept of Jubilee found in the Christian Bible, a concept that held that every 50 years all enslaved people received their freedom and all debts were wiped away. In the beginning the celebrations were political rallies passing out information to formerly enslaved people on how to vote.

With states passing segregation laws, cities began refusing Black people from using public parks. So freed people pooled their money together and purchased their own plot of land to use for events, such as Juneteenth. One such plot of land is now Houston’s Emancipation Park. Black freed Texans came from all over the state to join together and celebrate Juneteenth.

Partially because of Jim Crow era laws, Juneteenth celebrations began to decline, other factors included people moving to urban areas and into jobs that did not allow them time off for the celebration. However, after the Great Depression, the Texas State Fair, from 1936-1951 served as a destination for the revitalization of the celebration. In 1938, Texas governor James V. Allred issued a proclamation naming June 19 Emancipation Day a state holiday. In 1951, over 70,000 people came together to celebrate, this particular celebration was called the Juneteenth Jamboree.

Between 1940s and the 1970s, over five million Black people left Texas, and other areas of the South, called the Second Great Migration, for the North and West coast, taking and spreading Juneteenth with them. Since the 1970s Juneteenth celebrations have been steadily growing across the United States. While most states do recognize Juneteenth to varying degrees, Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota do not but there is growing pressure for it to be named a federal holiday.

Modern celebrations include readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs, reading works written by African-American writers, also cookouts, family reunions, street fairs, music, rodeos, historical reenactments, barbecuing, baseball, fishing, and Miss Juneteenth contests.

The Tampa Bay Juneteenth Coalition was recognized by the City of Tampa in 2018. Last year Juneteenth celebrations were kicked off in Largo with a bike ride on the Pinellas Trail followed by a community fish fry, a staple of local Juneteenth celebrations. The City of Largo supports the Friends of the Ridgecrest Celebration by donating fish for the fish fry and in 2019 the Bookmobile rolled up for the celebration as well.

We hope everyone, but especially our African American patrons, has a very joyous Juneteenth!!

And now it’s time for Book Traveler, with Victor:
Welcome to Books Traveler. I am Victor, a librarian here at the Largo Public Library and today I am going to be talking about a book called El Unicornio Negro or The Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde.

Synopsis: El Unicornio Negro, published in 1978, is a collection of poems that, from its own grammar and genealogy, seeks to explore the plurality of identities and oppressions of an African-American and lesbian woman in the United States in the 1970s, whose themes are so varied and transcendental that they reach our days intact. This book, in a bilingual edition, is the first collection of poems by Audre Lorde to be translated into Spanish.

Opinion: Audre Lorde is one of the most important writers of African American feminism. She fought for civil rights, against racism and the oppression of women. Lorde has shaped the way of speaking and thinking of many people by highlighting the black feminism of the sixties. Many of the verses in this bilingual collection of poems are true mottos of the feminist movement. The Black Unicorn uses poetry to address issues of racism, sexism, violence, lesbian eroticism, sisterhood and sonority. Lorde also emphasizes authenticity and diversity that goes beyond the symbolic borders of the United States. These symbolic borders are seen represented in one of my favorite poems in the book “Salir Adelante” or “Coping” where we can see how people are marked by socio-economic differences and the lack of resources to get ahead. Another of my favorite poems was “Power”. This poem is still very relevant today and you can feel the author’s anger when dealing with the subject of a teenager who was killed by a policeman who was later found not guilty at trial. The book touches on very important topics and is highly recommended.

Outro: It’s all for today, until the next edition of Book Traveler. Bye.

Stay safe everyone out there! Check out our virtual programming here and also don’t forget to sign up for our Read Woke Initiative on Beanstack!

For everyone interested our intro music is by Break the Bans and the outro music is by Jahzzar, both artists can be found on Free Music Archive.